JPSS-2 | Atlas V 401

Lift Off time
November 10, 2022 – 09:49 UTC | 01:49 PST
Mission Name
Joint Polar Satellite System-2, JPSS-2
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
United Launch Alliance (ULA)
(Who paid for this?)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Atlas V 401
Launch Location
Space Launch Complex 3 East, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, USA
Payload mass
~3,000 kg (6,600 lb)
Where did the satellites go?
Sun-Synchronous Orbit, 824 km (512 mi) SSO final orbit
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, the Atlas V is not capable of booster recovery
Where did the first stage land?
It crashed into the Pacific Ocean
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of ULA
Was the fairings new?
This was the:
– 97th Atlas V launch
– 679th Atlas launch
– 155th orbital launch attempt of 2022
Where to watch
Official Replay

How Did It Go?

United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 satellite to polar orbit atop its Atlas V rocket. The rocket launched in its 401 configuration–a four-meter payload fairing, 0 SRBs, and 1 RL-10 engine on the second stage–from Space Launch Complex 3 East, at the Vandenberg Space Force Base, in California, USA. This launch marked the 97th launch of an Atlas V rocket.

What Is JPSS-2?

The JPSS-2 satellite is the second satellite in NOAA’s latest generation of polar-orbiting environmental satellites called the Joint Polar Satellite System. This constellation provides global environmental data to feed numerical weather prediction models for weather forecasts and climate modeling.

The first satellite as part of the Joint Polar Satellite System was the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, which was launched on October 28, 2011. This satellite served as a pathfinder for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program, which has replaced NOAA’s Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES) and the USAF’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

In 2011, the NPOESS program was canceled, in favor of the JPSS constellation. To support this, on November 21, 2017, the JPSS-1 satellite was launched. This satellite, later renamed NOAA-20, gives meteorologists information on “atmospheric temperature and moisture, clouds, sea-surface temperature, ocean color, sea ice cover, volcanic ash, and fire detection.” This data will enhance weather forecasting.

As a follow-up to this mission, the JPSS-2 satellite will do largely the same. The spacecraft has numerous instruments. The first is the advanced technology microwave sounder (ATMS). This is a cross-track scanner with 22 channels, which provides sounding observations needed to retrieve moisture and temperature profiles for real-time measurements of the climate.

JPSS-2 rendering
An artist’s rendering of the JPSS-2 satellite (Credit: Orbital-ATK)

The second instrument on the spacecraft is the Cross-track Infrared Sounder, which produces high-resolution 3D moisture, pressure, and temperature profiles. The third element is the ozone mapping and profiler suite, which, as the name implies, measures the ozone in the atmosphere. This is part of a 25-plus year total-ozone record, which has been used to progress the healing of the ozone layer.

The final instrument is the visible infrared imaging radiometer suite, which takes global visible and infrared observations of the land and ocean in high temporal resolution.

The satellite has a mass of right around 3,000 kg and was manufactured by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems and is based on the LEOStar-3 satellite bus. This satellite bus dates back to 2003–when it first launched on the Coriolis satellite–and is a high-performance adaptation of the New Millennium Deep Space 1 prob for LEO. The satellite has deployable solar arrays and batteries to power itself in orbit, where it is expected to survive for seven years.

There are two more satellites planned: a $130 million JPSS-3 and an $87 million JPSS-4.

What Is The Atlas V?

The Atlas V is an expendable medium-lift launch system and member of the Atlas rocket family. The rocket has two stages. The first is a Common Core Booster (CCB), which is powered by a single RD-180 engine that burns kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx). This is accompanied by up to five strap-on solid rocket boosters. The second stage is the Centaur upper stage, which is powered by one or two RL10 engines and burns liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOx).

What Does 401 Mean?

Atlas V rockets have a three-number configuration code. The first number represents the fairing diameter size in meters The second number denotes the number of solid rocket motors (SRMs), which attach to the base of the rocket. The number of SRMs for a 4-meter fairing can range from 0 – 3. However, the 5-meter fairing Atlas V can support up to 5 SRMs, due to the different aerodynamic properties of the fairing. For the Lucy mission, there will be 0 SRBs attached to the center core. The third number shows the number of engines on the Centaur Upper Stage.

rocket white srb atlas v fairing fuel engine
A diagram of the entire Atlas V family with the SRM placement for each number shown. (Credit: NASA)

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